As the pandemic continues to adversely affect the aviation industry, Thai International Airways has reported that it shall ground 69 of 82 aircraft in its fleet. This move is in favor of ways to boost finances as it battles the crisis which has led to minuscule passenger numbers and gargantuan uncertainty about when air travel shall return to normal.
Thai Airways announced about the dramatic reduction of its services in a recent report:
‘Due to the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19, several countries in Europe and Asia have intensely increased preventive measures including screening by local Ministries of Public Health and Civil Aviation Organisations. In effect, Thai International shall have to take several measures to cut back on flights, until further notice.’
To facilitate customers, the carrier allows passengers holding ‘THAI’ and ‘THAI Smile’ code-share air tickets, issued before March 25, 2020, with the following date of travel, to convert unused tickets to one-year valid travel voucher without fee and surcharges:
Asian Routes during Mar 25 – May 31,
European, Australian and New Zealand Routes during Apr 1 – May 31.
The airline shall continue to operate cargo service in some routes and will operate charter flight if there are stranded passengers or requested by government agencies concerned.
In 2019, the carrier’s losses widened by Bt3.4bn ($103mn) to Bt12.4bn ($378mn), as revenues fell despite increased passenger numbers. Accordingly, in an attempt to preserve cash, the deputy transport minister, Thaworn Senniam, stated:
‘We have to reduce aircraft types to as much as possible to reduce cost… We can take out old aircraft, replace them with new ones through leasing or other procurement methods.’
In light of this announcement, the older A330s, Boeing 747s and Boeing 777-200s in Thai’s fleet might see an early retirement, similar to the moves taken by KLM and Virgin Atlantic last week. As Thai Airways, with a previous reputation as one of Asia’s premier airlines, is ceasing all flights for a period of at least two months, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has also allowed the suspension of all domestic and international flights, thereby, fully shutting down aviation in the country. Furthermore, the company has now asked employees to take two months off up until May 31, 2020. Along with this, staff salaries will be reduced by 10-50%.
If any of our readers are booked with the mentioned carriers for travel in days to come, they are entitled to ask for a full refund without any charge via: member.thaismileair.com/customerservice/refund
The pandemic has definitely created a havoc in the aviation industry. As the industry reshapes itself post the crisis, it would be interesting to see which airlines would still be the leaders, and which would have perished.